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The percentage of women majoring in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) at American University is markedly higher than the national average, reflecting AU's commitment to equity and access. At the university, a full 69 percent of undergraduates and 61 percent of graduate STEM students are women. The university is filling its science departments with award-winning female researchers who are eager to mentor students in their fields, and students are responding.
AU's science departments work hard to recruit women, says Teresa Larkin, associate professor of physics and director of the College of Arts and Sciences' dual-degree engineering program with Columbia University. "Half of our physics department faculty are women—and nearly half of the students are too," she says. Bei Xiao, assistant professor of computer science, says she was attracted by AU's openness to interdisciplinary and cutting-edge research. "AU has encouraged me to push the boundaries in my field," says Xiao, whose work on multisensory perception is breaking new ground in human and electronic visual processing.
Katie DeCicco-Skinner, an associate professor of biology, has garnered more than $800,000 in grants for skin cancer research from the National Institutes of Health. She is bridging the gap for women in the sciences through her work. "I hope to serve as a role model to the young women in the laboratory," DeCicco-Skinner says. "It is important for me to have students leave [AU] well-trained and confident in their scientific prowess."
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